Dams for drought-ridden Sudan

Paul Smith Lomas
February 15th, 2011

I was in Sudan last week, when the final result of the referendum on the future of the South came in. An overwhelming 99% of people voted in favour of secession, which means that we’ll see a new country created some time in July. 

 While the big question has been answered, there are a lot of details to be worked out. Critically, there are three ‘transition zones’ and details of the boundaries have yet to be worked out, never mind issues about financing, debt, and revenue sharing. 

 I visited Darfur, where low-level conflict continues and there are few signs of peace on the horizon. While I was there, bombing close El Fashir town (the provincial capital of North Darfur) prevented me from visiting our projects in locations outside the town.

Despite this conflict, our important development work continues to help people make a living.  We have some really exciting work building simple, but unique dam structures which ‘harvest’ the limited rain water in this drought-ridden area. This enables people to grow crops where it would otherwise be impossible. 

Other work, like helping farmers to choose early maturing crop varieties and supporting community-based forestry is helping to ‘Green Darfur’ (ie change a desert into a green and productive land). If you’d ever been to Darfur, you’d understand how amazing this concept is, and like me even more amazed at the results we’re achieving with our local partners on the ground.

 Later this month we’re hosting a conference with a variety of local organisations (United Nations, Government, other Non-government organisations, local communities, academics) to share what we’ve done, and what we’ve learnt.  We hope that this will help us to continue to improve our work but also improve the efforts of others too.

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